Reminiscent of Infantry fight system, and to show dramatic combat with guns, is the final fight scene to the movie Equilirium (2002) by Kurt Wimmer (major spoilers for those who haven’t seen it yet).
At least 20 shots fired and not a scratch on either guy. Notice how it was harder for John Preston to point and pull a trigger than it was for him to wrist-lock the gun from his opponent? That’s because it’s more dramatic that way. Guns are more tricky to pull this off without the dissolution of viewer disbelief (like Mike’s Commando note in the last comments). Wimmer, or whoever choreographed the fights, did a good job throughout the movie.
The two weren’t exchanging blows and deducting hit points. Instead, they were deducting each others’, as I put it in the last post, easily-replenish-able statuses.
On the silver screen, these mainly amount to stamina, balance and awareness. To deliver the killing blow, movie heroes often wear their opponents down in some way, confuse their sense of balance, distract them or catch them off guard. The Equilibrium fight was a matter of the hero wearing down the bad guy’s concentration enough to grapple the gun away from him. Or take a Jackie Chan 40-vs-1 scenario where he’s got a ton of thugs trying to take him down. They could never just come up and axe him in the head, instead they’re trying to wear his heroic levels of stamina, balance and awareness down enough to get him somehow.
Anyway, the shocker is, as far as a cinematic tabletop RPG system, I don’t completely have one. Honestly, I don’t deem it worthy of my time to thoroughly flesh it all out at the moment. Had I gotten further with it, I might have posted all this a year ago. What I have is a rough outline of concepts and then a set of rules on how they might be employed.
Let’s get back to easily-replenish-able statuses. Let’s call them “statuses” because it’s shorter and I don’t know what else to call them. Characters in such a system are likely to have a bunch of regular stats (strength, dexterity, etc.) and then those statuses, which are tied to their regular stats but, as their name implies, they can change over the course of a fight.
So, let’s say characters all have the above stamina, balance and awareness as statuses. These things act like the shields in Infantry, but in multi-dimensional ways. If you try to perform a certain action, depending on the action, it could tax one, two or all of those things. Likewise, if you’re trying to react or counter an opposing action, it might first require a success check based on those actions, and then, depending on the results, one or more of those statuses will be drained. On the other hand, like the Star Wars system mentioned in the last comments, you could take it easy in order to replenish a stat.
Two guys, a thug, who is heavy and strong, and a martial artist, who is light and quick, are duking it out. All of them start out with the same (or similar) stamina, balance and awareness, as they’re both fresh. The thug might try to swing heavily with his fists. As he does that, he’ll make checks and occasionally lose stamina, balance and awareness, perhaps one more than another. I would say heavy swings merit a harsh decay on balance and even a harsher decay on stamina. The martial artist might try to dodge, and if it comes down to that, block these blows. Dodging requires balance. If he fails a balance check, he may be hit. Or, maybe a failed balance check allows of an awareness check, which if that passes, he isn’t hit but gets to block. All of these things require and take away the statuses. Worse yet, if the martial artist receives the full on force of the thug’s fist, that will probably make a huge dent on all of his statuses.
The martial artist, during this fight, will be dodging and striking, not with heavy swings, but with targeted blows. Perhaps he strikes the legs, in an effort to get the thug off balance. Perhaps he targets the eyes, as to decrease the thug’s awareness. The martial artist’s strategy should be to wear something down on his larger opponent that will give an opening to do some real damage.
The whip has been touted as one of the most versatile and interesting weapons. I remember hearing about so many possibilities with what a character could do with one, from blinding the eyes to pulling a weapon from an opponent’s grip. The problem is that AD&D’s system simply does not allow for this kind of depth. Instead, all that matters is damage (and, as the above link shows, there are some rules for whips that do more damage than a longsword…great depth there). The problem is that it’s simply easier, at all times, to attack with something that does damage. If you want to grab someone’s leg with a whip, even if that person is 1 hit point away from unconsciousness, it requires a difficult called shot to the leg. Your character points are simply much better spent learning how to wield a kopesh.
Dick’s (non-existent) Cinematic Tabletop RPG Combat system, on the other hand, allows for inventive use of whips and other situational items. This is in the aim to make combat dramatic.
So, below is an outline of how the system might be employed. It’s rough and rather incomplete. I have simply put a lot of thought into the process of thinking this up, so I thought I should make it known here on Protozoic. A major problem that I can think of: it’s probably too complicated. On the other hand, it should be intuitive, unlike Shadowrun’s combat system. In Shadowrun, you’re never quite sure if a particular bullet is absorbed by armor or its target completely. Shadowrun’s system is better than AD&D’s in some ways, but it is hence abstract on top of being more complicated. So, given my system’s complexity, it is better suited for a video game, where the player can intuit everything but only the computer has to deal with calculations.
Character stats: These mainly break down into: Attributes, Statuses and Skills.
In my draft, making things as simple as I can, I plotted out Primary Attributes Strength, Mass, and Focus. These attributes are exactly what you think they are. They come in ranges 1 to 10, with 3 being human average and 6 being the normal human maximum (allowing for fantasy/sci-fi elements).
Secondary Attributes are then derived from the 3 above attributes. The Secondary Attributes are Stasis, Quickness and Dexterity. Stasis is how well one finds one’s balance, but also how hard it is to topple one’s balance. Quickness is how long it takes to get any part or parts of one’s body from point A to point B, but not including reaction time. Dexterity is really general hand-eye (foot-eye or anything else-eye) coordination.
These are like the regular attributes in range, but there are fomulas to find each one. Quickness is complicated, but the rest are easy.
Strength+((10-Mass)/2)-Mass = Quickness (note, round all decimals down)
So, Mass and Strength are working against each other. For example, a ham-fisted thug, with 4 Strength and 5 Mass might look like:
4+((10-5)/2)-5 = 1 Quickness
A martial artist, with 4 Strength and 3 Mass, might look like:
4+((10-3)/2)-3 = 4 Quickness
A pretty big disparity, I know, but realize that Mass is going to mean tons when you’re knuckling up.
(Quickness+Focus)/2 = Dexterity
Dexterity is somewhat physical, somewhat mental.
(Dexterity+Mass)/2 = Stasis
While a small but quick guy is going to be easy to knock over, he also will be able to easily get back on his feet. A large guy is going to be tougher to knock over, but he isn’t going to have such an easy time getting back up.
Statuses, which are Stamina, Balance, Awareness and Initiative, can change from round to round, but the first three start at 6 at the start of combat. That is unless the corresponding attribute is higher than 6, in which. The corresponding attributes are:
Stamina: Strength Balance: Stasis Awareness: Focus
A d6 roll + Awareness = Initiative
Initiative is re-calculated at the beginning of each combat round.
I haven’t fleshed this part out yet. I don’t think it’s important for the example, so we’ll just leave them out.
I haven’t completely thought this part through either. What I do have in mind are weapons that rely on certain stats to be used. A big, heavy axe is going to require more power than a a rapier, which would require more speed and aim.
How this all adds up
A big, dumb thug might look like this: Primary Attributes Strength: 4 Mass: 5 Focus: 3 Secondary Attributes Quickness: 1 Dexterity: 2 Stasis: 3 Statuses Stamina: 6 Balance: 6 Awareness: 6 Equipment Weapon: Battle Axe
And the above martial artist could look like this: Primary Attributes Strength: 4 Mass: 3 Focus: 5 Secondary Attributes Quickness: 4 Dexterity: 4 Stasis: 3 Statuses Stamina: 6 Balance: 6 Awareness: 6 Equipment Weapon: Katana
Notice how the both have the same Stasis. That’s because, while the thug isn’t quick on his feet, his Mass makes him hard to knock over. The martial artist, who isn’t nearly as Mass-ive as the thug, is quick on his feet and will usually land like cat if dumped head-first towards the ground.
Hard Actions vs. Easy Actions vs. Automatic Actions
In the Angel fight scene, it was difficult to hit anyone with a blade, but easier to either hit blades with blades or hit someone with a blunt object. Below are how these actions could be divided:
Hard: Heavy Punch (or Heavy Elbow or Heavy Kick, etc.) Any weapon action (slash, stab, chop, shoot, etc.) Tackle (or Grapple or Knockdown or Trip)
Easy: Parry Jab (or Elbow, or Head-butt etc.) Butt (using the non-pointy side of a weapon) Kick (or Knee) Dodge (or Brace for Impact)
Automatic: Parry/Dodge/Brace for Impact
The idea is to think of as many different attack maneuvers and to try to make them fit into the system. Optimally a player will be familiar with a long list of possible actions for his character.
Easy Actions are less strenuous on Statuses and are more defensive, while Hard Actions pay out more if they are successful but stress the character more. Automatic actions are defensive ones that are even less strenuous than East Actions, but don’t require declarations of any sort. They, if not superseded by their corresponding Easy Action, happen any time an attack is made.
Here’s where the article basically ends. Sorry. There are just too many details and I’m just not going to invest the time at this moment to put them in so that things are balanced. Here are just some rough guidelines I’ve thought of:
Initiative works by the slowest characters declaring their actions first down to the fastest characters, but the actions happen in the order of quickest to slowest. That way two things can happen: the winners of initiative get to base their actions off of the slower ones and the slower ones might have to work with reduced Statuses, depending on what the quicker character manage to do.
I’m thinking of using the d6 system of successes, much like Shadowrun and others, because I think they have an averaging effect.
Easy Actions get to use two stats, an Attribute and a Status, while Hard Actions use only one, an Attribute and Automatic Actions only use Statuses. So, dodging uses the total number dice from Quickness and Awareness. A swing of a battle axe, on the other hand, would use only Strength to determine the die. A parry as an Automatic Action might only use Awareness.
Carrying out actions costs Statuses, depending on the difficulty of that action. Failing an action, especially a defensive action, costs a lot. This is made by an Attribute and Status check compared to the character’s current Statuses. Each Status that is more than the check is decreased by one. If the action is a fail, then it is again decreased by one. And, if a the character’s Status is still greater than its corresponding Attribute at, then that Status loss is again greater by one.
If a character loses a Status while being attacked, that Status is set back to 1, and the character then receives physical damage.
So, maybe I’ll finish it one day. Maybe I should have extended this to 4 posts and fleshed it all out. Rather, I think, I’ll tailor it for computer usage.